Howie Roseman’s Cheerios had a peculiar, salty taste Sunday morning.
The Eagles general manager woke up to discover that, just hours before his teetering team played what essentially was a playoff game in Arizona, his franchise quarterback was demanding a trade.
ESPN reported at 7:30 a.m. that Wentz would be unwilling to serve as Jalen Hurts’ backup in 2021. Doug Pederson benched Wentz, who has been the league’s worst quarterback, in the third quarter two weeks ago in Green Bay. Pederson then named Hurts the starter for the Saints game last week, which Hurts won.
Hurts remained the starter Sunday against in Arizona, where he threw for three touchdowns with no interceptions, ran for another, and brought the Birds from a 16-point deficit to a 33-26 loss.
Reports indicate Hurts will start the rest of the season, which indicates the Eagles’ intent to at least hold a competition for the starting job next year. However, after the game Pederson would not even commit to Hurts starting next week, much less next season.
Asked about the report, Pederson painted Wentz as supportive: “Carson has done everything we’ve asked him to do.”
He did not address the reported long-term concerns; in fact, he sympathized:
“I understand it’s probably a frustrating situation for him.”
Wentz, the ESPN report said, doesn’t want to compete. Rather, he wants to force a trade — despite beginning the four-year, $128 million contract extension whose salary-cap implications render him virtually untradable and unreleasable.
The report casts Wentz as a victim, one who “is not pleased with the way events have unfolded in the organization.”
“The organization” is not “pleased with the way events unfolded,” either. Wentz’s atrocious play was the biggest factor in its compiling a 3-8-1 record in his starts. His 15 interceptions, 50 sacks, and 72.8 passer rating all were worst in the league among quarterbacks with at least 10 games.
On a macro level, Wentz’s wounded feelings might be understandable. Roseman drafted Hurts with their second-round pick in April despite needs at wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback, and offensive line. And Roseman’s recent drafts have been unremarkable. The GM also entered into unwise contracts with veteran receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson, who have been injured most of the last two seasons.
While the ESPN report, with the cleverest of vagueness, cited ”sources connected to the team,” there is no logical scenario in which these reports would not have emanated from Wentz and his representatives. Much more important, neither Wentz nor his camp disputed the assertions in the story. A message left with Wentz’s representatives Sunday went unreturned.
So, a few thoughts.
Shut up, man. Your team has a chance to back into a playoff slot for the third straight season. It doesn’t need this sort of distraction from a player who leads the NFL in interceptions, total turnovers, and sacks — a player who should have been benched after Game 9, not Game 12.
Get ready. Hurts is a running quarterback facing the Cardinals’ unique and ravenous front seven that ranks eighth in sacks, and he’s playing in front of the Eagles’ 13th different offensive line combination in 14 games. That means there will be lots of hits. Which means Wentz might be playing again as soon as today. Pederson delayed naming Hurts the starter immediately after each of the last two games, so if Wentz plays, and plays well, he’ll get his job back. And that is true for the rest of this season.
Told you so. This report affects the “Carson Brand,” and not favorably. In each of the last two seasons, Wentz has been cast as an imperfect teammate and employee: a cliquish locker-room presence who plays favorites on the field and is insubordinate to assistant coaches. Not only did Wentz not deny these reports, he admitted he needed to address these issues, even if they were misperceptions. Pushing this narrative — that you will play only for a team that agrees that you start, no matter what — only reinforces the image of Wentz as an entitled, weak professional.
Intentional or not, this stance is subtle sabotage of Hurts’ second career start. Shame on you.
This is a diaper-soft mindset. What team wants a quarterback who’s not willing to fight for his job?
Several teams would undoubtedly be interested in trading for Wentz — a big, strong-armed, smart, and relatively mobile quarterback.
But what, exactly, would teams be willing to surrender in exchange for a highly paid, oft-injured, apparently regressed ... malcontent?